Speed Reads


Saudi women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul released from prison

Loujain al-Hathloul, a women's rights activist who led the campaign to lift the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia, has been released from prison after being detained for almost three years.

In December, al-Hathloul, 31, was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison, after being charged with multiple crimes under a counterterrorism law, including trying to bring about change in Saudi Arabia. Her family said she was released on Wednesday after a judge suspended part of her sentence and gave her credit for time served. She will likely be restricted from leaving the country and speaking to reporters.

Al-Hathloul graduated in 2013 from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and when she returned to Saudi Arabia, she filmed herself driving home from the airport, a clip that quickly went viral. She was arrested in 2018, around the same time Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was trying to paint himself as a reformer while also cracking down on activists.

During his campaign, President Biden said if elected, he would "reassess" the United States' relationship with Saudi Arabia, saying America's "commitment to democratic values and human rights will be a priority, even with our closest security partners." When Biden learned that al-Hathloul had been freed on Wednesday, he said it was "welcome news," as she is "a powerful activist for women's rights and releasing her was the right thing to do."